A woman is upset after she paid a company from Nova Scotia to ship her vehicle from Alberta to Newfoundland, but months later, she found it had reached a Halifax parking lot  with thousands of dollars in damages, and hundreds of extra kilometres.

CBC News Investigates

Heather Hussey, from St. John's, hired Auto Rail Forwarders, a Halifax-based shipping company, in February. 

She gave them $3,200 dollars to ship her black Jeep Liberty from Grand Prairie to St. John's in about three weeks' time, barring any bad weather.

Hussey said the company was supposed to pick up her vehicle in Alberta on Feb. 28.

"Then, it ended up being delayed after delayed. No weather, but it was just delays," she said. "Finally, on March 11, we were told that it was picked up."

Hussey spent the last month and a half trying to figure out just what happened to her vehicle after that point.

She called and emailed Auto Rail Forwarders, but had no luck getting a response.

"You can phone them, and literally it'll just go right to voicemail," Hussey said. 

"I actually at one point in time had to leave a message, and pretend I was a new client looking for a quote, and that's when they phoned me back."

When Hussey finally got Auto Rail Forwarders' owner, Gerry Giovannetti, on the phone, she said he didn't know where it was either.

'We don't track vehicles every single hour of the day. We move close to 1,000 vehicles per year.' - Gerry Giovannetti, owner of Auto Rail Forwarders

"At that time, he didn't even know. He didn't have any paperwork. To me, that's a little bit irresponsible and not very organized for a company that big to not to have any information on the vehicle," Hussey said.

Giovannetti told CBC Investigates that his company doesn't track all the vehicles being transported.

"We don't track vehicles every single hour of the day. We move close to 1,000 vehicles per year. We wouldn't have the time to track every vehicle," he said.

Parked car

In early April, Giovannetti got in touch with Hussey and told her the vehicle was in storage on a parking lot in Halifax belonging to Adesa Auctions. 

He told Hussey that her vehicle was parked there until a driver could pick it up. 

Adesa Auctions

Hussey's vehicle was transported to Halifax and held for storage in Adesa Auctions' parking lot. (CBC)

​Hussey was concerned about her vehicle, so she asked her uncle in Halifax to have a look at where her Jeep was parked, and to check the kilometres.

"He called me and said that there's 400 kilometres put on it. There was 195,412 on the Jeep, and now there's 195,844."

Giovannetti explained that for part of the journey, the vehicle was driven instead of being shipped.

"The vehicle ended up in Moncton," he said. 

"I then had a driver take the vehicle from Moncton to Halifax so that it could meet a transport carrier that was going to Newfoundland."

Giovannetti said there are about 230 kilometres between Moncton and Halifax, and that he's speaking with the other transport carriers to see where the additional 200 kilometres on Hussey's vehicle came from.

Hussey said she later found out more about that leg of the journey.

"We found out from a company in Moncton... What they do is they buy vehicles at auctions down in Halifax. And apparently they've been dealing with [Giovannetti] for years, and [he] gets them to drive people's personal vehicles that they are waiting to be transported to Halifax, like us, and drive it to Halifax," she said. 

"I was just informed shortly ago there were three people in my vehicle when they drove it to Halifax."

Damaged vehicle

Hussey said she no longer trusted Auto Rail Forwarders, and she wasn't convinced that they were going to finish the job. 

So she hired another company to ship her vehicle from Halifax to St. John's.

When she finally got her vehicle back on April 27, she discovered that not only had someone else driven it, but it was also damaged.

Heather Hussey's damaged Jeep

Hussey said when she finally got her vehicle, the roof rack was cracked, and there were dents and scratches on top of the roof. (CBC)

"The roof rack is cracked and there's dents and scratches all up on the top of the roof," she said. "We got some quotes, and it's going to cost about $4,000 or more to get fixed."

Giovannetti said the damage occurred when his movers tried to fit the vehicle onto a transport truck, somewhere between Grand Prairie and Moncton.

"From what I was told from the carriers that moved the vehicle for us, that it was an oversized vehicle, that the height of the vehicle was more than the specifications of a regular Jeep Liberty," he said. 

"They basically tried to put it on the belly of the truck, it would not fit, and that's why the roof rack was damaged."

Consumer complaints

While Giovannetti blames the damages on subcontractors, he told CBC Investigates that he's willing to take care of the cost of the damages — but Hussey wants more.

"It cost us thousands of dollars to get this here — that's not pocket change, by no means. And we having to find another carrier to get the Jeep here, and now that's more money out of our pocket. And I want [to be] refunded for that. I want my money back for this whole ordeal... He should not be in business. And I don't want anybody else to go through this, at all," she said.

"I'm not letting him get away with this. It's not fair because there [are] a lot of people out there that probably never ever took a claim against him because they just want to get clear of him. But I don't want to be that person."

Hussey told CBC Investigates that she has contacted a lawyer, and plans to take legal action against the company. 

But this isn't the first complaint against Auto Rail Forwarders.

An Edmonton man told CBC News in March that he had trouble when he hired Auto Rail Forwarders to move two cars from Victoria, B.C. to Alberta in 2013.

He was also shocked to find a long list of online complaints about the company, including issues with lengthy service delays.

Auto Rail Forwarders also currently has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau, posted on the bureau's website.